来这里吧 understand this? No? What if I shout it at you more loudly and start waving my hands around? Still don't understand???
No and neither does your dog if you haven't actually trained a word/instruction you can't expect your dog to perform it. So many people think that screaming here or come at the tops of their voices across the park will make the dog one understand what they want and two actually do it - it won’t trust me. Now if I teach the dog what here/come means and make it a better incentive to come to me than carry on with whatever it is they are doing across the other side of the park, now I have the beginnings of a recall.
There are many methods and ways to teach a recall, this is just my preferred method:
- Ideally start when they are puppies and make it all food orientated - not their normal biscuits that they find in their bowl but something really delicious something they want to “win” like sardines or hot dogs or a bit of chicken. Start sat on the floor in an enclosed space and let the puppy look away even turn away and call here/come/close whatever your chosen word is - once you have chosen it though it needs to stay the same for every person that handles the dog. Call the word once and you will get the puppies attention say “yes” and offer the food all within 3 seconds. The 3 second rule works from puppies into adult dogs and it is the amount of time that the dog still associates the reward for the behaviour it has just offered and this is the link you need to create to get the dog to properly understand a command.
- Once the puppy does this repetitively 3 or 4 times a day (only 5 minutes at a time) allow the dog to venture a little bit further away in the enclosed space and repeat the exercise. If you are feeling really confident you can put a distraction in the room that you allow the dog to go to and then you can call it away from the distraction - always remember though what you are offering as a reward needs to be more appealing than the distraction.
- Once you have achieved this you can put the puppy on a slip lead and practice the same thing outside, you step back three/four paces to the end of the lead and then call and the puppy should come and present in front of you - “yes” and food simultaneously. You can build the length of the lead up so you are eventually moving quite a distance from the dog.
- As puppies mature into older dogs some people prefer to substitute the food for a toy or ball. This really depends on how high drive the dog is for a toy - some food crazy labradors for instance may always prefer to come back to a bit of chicken than a ball!!
- Don’t over use the word, a dogs hearing is very good and they will have heard you the first time, shouting over and over again at the top of your voice just creates a dog that just blocks you out and then they actually train themselves they don't have to listen to you. If the dog isn't returning to you - go over put on the lead and go back a step in training until you know that the command is confirmed for the dog.
- If your dog doesn't come back immediately and it takes a slightly deviated route back please DON’T get angry with the dog. It has done what you asked (eventually) but if you get angry with it you create confusion in the dog’s head, it thinks it is being told off for returning - you run the risk of having a very confused dog or even worse a dog which won’t return at all for fear of being told off. Keep a high pitched excitable tone at all times - remember you want to be more appealing and a better option than whatever else the dog has found or is interested in.
A few other tips to try along side the general rules:
Socialisation is great and I am a big advocate that dogs should be socialised from a young age and they should understand each others body language and react accordingly to it which is learnt from socialisation. When a dog has learnt these things what they don't in my eyes need to do is run off to speak to every other dog they see without permission from the handler. It creates a dog that has an attitude of “I do what I want” and if this starts to be their ethos you can forget a good recall they only come they they want to. If you allow your dog to run up to every person dog cyclist etc they assume that they can do this to everyone when ever they want - whether that is across a main road or not!!! If they are less likely to want to go and greet everyone and everything you have a much better chance of having a better recall in place.
Don’t ever chase your dog - mainly because you won’t catch them and they will realise this. You have a far superior brain to your dog so use it, play games where the dog chases you and then when they “catch” you there get rewarded for it. Then when you need them to come back to you you can simply stop and turn around and walk briskly in the other direction - the dog senses a game and will come and then you can reward (however you wish) that the dog has returned to you.
You don't even have to put a command in with this, just do it and get the dog to be aware of where you are and search for you. If the dog starts to get less bothered about following you then hide (when you are in a safe environment to do so away from roads etc) behind a tree or something similar out of direct sight of the dog and watch them come and look for you, when they find you praise and reward the dog. It definitely sharpens them up to be more aware of where the handler is and react to your movements.
Please remember no matter how much you train and however many bits of chicken are in your pocket they are dogs at the end of the day and there is always a chance that they may not come back to a recall and may find something just to distracting. You therefore need to be aware of the safety of the environment you allow your dog off the lead in and always be aware that just because you are a responsible dog owner sadly doesn't mean everyone is. Help your dog not to make the mistake.